Girls’ Wrestling Team, led by Sapjah Zapotitla (‘22), finds spirit in inaugural season


Courtesy of Sasha Zapotitla (‘22)

Zapotitla helped create the first girls wrestling team at East.

This year, New Jersey became only the 12th state to open a separate league for female wrestlers, allowing girls to wrestle each other instead of having to face off against their male counterparts.

Accordingly, Cherry Hill East, along with other schools in the Olympic Conference, formed a wrestling team just for girls, under the direction of Coach Mike Brown.

The search for wrestlers began last October when wrestling team captain Sapjah Zapotitla (‘22) was selected to help form the team. The team functions more like a club, leaving at the late bus instead of the usual 5:30 p.m. for sports teams, according to Brown.

“I actually joined before they created [the team], and once I heard about it, I thought, ‘this is awesome! There’s gonna be people with the same interest as me,’” said Zapotitla, mentioning that her devotion to Crossfit and willingness to do activities usually designated for boys made her stand out to teachers and eventually, Brown.

Ultimately, six wrestlers ended up joining the team, and they became a tight-knit club, according to Zapotitla.

“We always love to help each other, even if the coaches can’t teach us, we’re there to teach each other, we’re there to support each other,” said Zapotitla.

Brown noted that he was impressed with the spirit the girls brought to the game.

“They did a wonderful job, they all started liking it, they all said they’d be back next year so we’re looking to build on it,” said Brown.

Zapotitla compared the experience of competing in a traditionally male-dominated sport to being under the lights of a theatre production.

“It’s exhilarating, this is the time to shine, yes, I may not be on the stage, but it’s my time to show them what I got,” said Zapotitla.

Ultimately, the girls’ wrestling team, despite a lack of success this year, plans to be around for a while, and eventually, to dominate.

“Most of us don’t win, but we’re still there to support each other because in our hearts we still won,” said Zapotitla.